Thursday, February 26, 2009

Vurkey for my Valentine

veal-valentineThis Valentine’s Day was the most humiliating of my life.

I’ve been spending a wee bit of time with a certain dashing gent lately-we’ll call him Mr. Mortified-and V-day was to be our first official dinner party together.

As all good New Yorkers know, foodies never dine out on February 14th; the menus are fixed; the prices are a farce; and the crowd is feeble. So we opted to stay in, and I offered to cook for him and his friends. Confident in my kitchen skills, though taste-tested they were not yet, Mr. Mortified invited his two best friends to join us for dinner. They were a married couple desperate to dislike me. I’m afraid I made it easy.

The menu was supposed to be a simple but delicious, can-cook-it-with-my-hands-tied-behind-my-back, roast chicken.  I assumed we were cooking at his place and showed up early that afternoon, in my sexiest red dress, for a taste of some pre-party action. Little did I know, Mr. Mortified had arranged for he and I to head over to his friends’ lavish townhouse in Soho at 5 o’clock sharp, groceries for roast chicken preparedly in hand. But it was Valentine’s Day after all, and we had more on our minds than stuffing a bird, so…we showed up at his friends’ place at 6:30, disgracefully accompanied by rumpled hair and groceries for veal saltimbocca.

We were late. Very late. He wasn’t planning on my red dress, and I wasn’t planning on Manhattanites cooking dinner at 5pm! So at Whole Foods we made a mid-game change in strategy and decided on saltimbocca…at that point, we needed something that required far less cooking time, and I figured I could pull this dish out of my chef’s repertoire without consulting a recipe. And maybe I would’ve been able to, had I not gotten completely trashed before commencing cooking!

But when we got to their spot, Mr. Mortified and I found our hungry host and hostess high as kites and three sheets to the wind. They had sated their cravings for (the nonexistent) chicken, with red wine and weed. After having made an embarrassingly late first impression, I had no choice but to join them! Two joints and one bottle of Zin later, I moseyed on over to the stove.

Stabbing my veal with colored toothpicks that would later bleed fluorescent dye all over my entrée was just the first thing I did wrong. Failing to pound the veal was the second. Squeezing an entire Meyer lemon into the sauté pan, thereby creating a pool of liquid for the meat to swim in, rather than brown, and finishing the whole thing off in a 200 degree oven for five minutes, was a sheer act of lunacy. I won’t even mention the salad I forgot to spin or the bread I burnt.

Seated at their gorgeous dining room table in their perfectly appointed home, my imperfect meal was a joke. A few bites in, I declared dinner inedible and suggested we order pizzas. Our evening’s hostess shunned the idea saying,

“It’s not that bad, Kimberly. You just need to reimagine the dish. It’s not veal, it’s…turkey!”

She was high but gracious; I was humbled. Her husband was fast on her good-hostessing heels, eating at least four pieces of veal to help soothe my shame. Mr. Mortified however, didn’t find any of this funny. He shoved his plate away announcing,

“I like turkey on Thanksgiving. Vurkey has no place at my table.”

Alas. Mr. Mortified and I didn’t make it past our day of good sex and bad Vurkey. My veal-turkey mishap was just more than he could bear. He lost all respect for my cooking, and in turn, I lost my nerve to try and change his mind, but I have maintained a friendship with my hostess from that evening. I’ve begged her to give me a “re-do” in her kitchen, and she’s pledged to save the joints for dessert. One man down, one girlfriend up. I like my odds.

But next year, I’m making chicken.

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